11 Essential Life Coaching Skills

 Do You Have What It Takes? 

Use this coaching skills checklist to assess the skills and aptitudes you have and those you may need to develop to become a great and successful  life coach.

Whether you are hoping to find an internal executive coaching job, or a personal growth, relationships, career or business niche in private practice, your MO or the basic qualities and skills you need to have are the same.

1. Can you keep a secret?

Can you keep a secretLIfe coaches have to be able to keep a secret

The client must know that the coaching relationship and anything that comes up in the session is totally confidential.

The only person you should discuss your client with, and not by name, is your mentor or supervisor.

If someone other than the client is paying for the coaching (such as in a corporate situation) you must be very clear and firm in your initial agreement about the boundaries of what you can share with the third party who is paying.

Same goes for coaching anyone where someone else is paying such as in a family situation.

2.  Can you be involved but stay detached?

A core coaching skill is to be involved enough to be empathic and enthusiastic. Yet to be truly objective you must stay emotionally detached from the issue at hand or the outcome..

Of course you are going to your own opinions and biases, (show me someone who hasn’t), but when you are becoming a life coach you will have to learn to keep them out of the coaching picture, or at least own up to it before you share your perspective with your client.

3.  Develop the coaching skill of supportive yet firm

You should be able and willing to hold your client accountable for their actions in a way that is supportive to them but doesn't stand for any nonsense?

In the initial session with your client, let them know they are paying you to discover with them what could be the real issues, even if that truth is confronting for them. As one of my coaches once  said to me "Wendy you are paying me to call you on your sh...... so you can move forward".  But you don't have to put it as bluntly as that:)!

This list of Questions For New Clients is a great starting point to discover what makes your client tick and where some issues may arise.

4.  Can You Answer The Question "What Do You Do"

You're going to get asked that question or "so what is lifecoaching".  

If you want to make the right impression you need to be able to answer easily and congruently - and for many new coaches it's not that easy.  

So take advantage of the excellent free webinar offered by Cindy Schulson to help you get it right,

Cindy is a marketing expert with huge experience who has made her speciality helping coaches and consultants find their special voice and express themselves in a way that is engaging and inspiring to prospective clients.


5. Are you willing to get trained and qualified?

Are you willing to do the hard yards to get specific training and get a recognised life coach certification.

You may think you already know what coaching is all about and how to do it. But until you have had some specific coach training in a recognized life coaching course, plus some supervised experience, you may not have a proper understanding of how coaching differs from other disciplines. 

6.  Can you comply with coaching ethics?

Are you willing and able to follow the ethical guidelines for life coaching such as those set out here by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

7.  Can you stand apart from judgement?

Respect and maybe learn from all your clients.

They all have something to teach you, even those who will really stretch your patience?

If you aspire to be a life coach you must have a very strong natural acceptance and respect for other people, warts and all, and do your best not to let your biases or judgments show.

However you may choose not to work with clients who in their answers to these Questions for prospective clients  before you take them on (which you can add to or adjust to suit yourself), reveal they have beliefs or behaviors that may be completely unacceptable to you personally or that you do not feel comfortable with.

Relevant to this point on coaching skills is to know your limits as a coach and when you should pass a client on to a therapist or a consultant.

8.  Do you have good listening skills?

One of the vital personal life coaching skills is to develop great observation and listening techniques? That is to hear or observe what is often NOT being said and hone in on the real issues.

This is one of the core abilities of an empathetic and intuitive coach - it CAN be developed as mine was in a vital module in my coach training with CoachU.

9.  Are you willing to let the client do the work?

A skillful coach will always let the client be in the drivers seat around their actions

Are you willing to let the client be in the drivers seat and not take over the wheel?

Life coaching is essentially client driven – they take the wheel, you question, encourage guide, stretch and direct but never insist on their taking a certain path unless they are ready and “get” for themselves that is the way to go.

As a coaching skill you must be able to hold in check your natural desire to advise, control, or manipulate your clients even when it is clear to your perspective what needs to happen.

10.  Can you let the client take the credit?

Are you able to coach without needing acknowledgment. A good coach does not take credit for what their clients achieve - at least not to the client.☺ Rather they praise the client and let them take all the credit for all their successes.

However, another of coaching skills in building your business is to be able to translate the clients delight into a solid endorsement so read Hows to Get Life Coach Client Testimonials from a delighted client!

11. Are you flexible in how you coach and communicate?

You will need to have or develop the coaching skill of communicating by telephone or online comfortably?

This doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people, yet a huge proportion of coaching is now done over the phone or online via Skype or similar. At some time you are bound to have a phone or online session or catch up, even if you are a face-to-face coach.  Here's a discussion on some of the options for delivering your coaching.

So, if after reading this checklist of coaching skills, you think you have or can develop the key coaching skills and are getting excited about becoming a Life Coach, pause a moment and consider the following before you jump ship from your current job...

Have you been coached yourself?
If not I would really recommend hiring a qualified coach so you can experience good coaching. Experiencing good coaching from a qualified coach is an essential part and the beginning of your training in becoming a life coach.

I'd love to hear what additional qualities you think clients are looking for in a coach. Please share using Facebook below.


Need more Coaching Skills?
My book "Be Your Own Goals Coach" is worth a look.

Choosing tools to support your life coaching skills